A gift for our civil servants

Published December 22, 2019, 12:55 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat



Senator Sonny Angara
Senator Sonny Angara

The strength of an organization arises not just from its leaders, but also its people. Their passion and motivation are important factors; if the rank and file  believe in what their organization does, and that their organization compensates them decently, then that organization is operating well. At least, that is the ideal.

This December, the Philippine Statistics Authority came out with Phase 1 of their National Quickstat update for the month. In it, Filipino families earned on average, about P313,000 annually, or about P24,00 monthly, if you count 12 months and 13th month pay. However, expenditures count for almost P20,000, leaving families with only P75,000 in annual savings, or about P6,250 a month.

Our government employees, suffice to say, should be earning enough to meet their needs. However, given the reality of our changing times, it is important for the standardized salaries of our men and women in the various government departments to be updated as often as possible—after all, good performance can be encouraged with proper compensation.

The direct solution to this is a salary increase applied across all the salary grades of civil servants. After all, there are continued hikes in daily expenses such as food, transportation, and their children’s education expenses. An increase in their salaries would give them maneuvering space to balance their budgets, and have savings left over afterwards.

But adapting to economic realities is not the only reason. It is my belief that by providing higher salaries, we can steadily work towards the goal of also lowering the instances where corruption, or the temptation to be corrupt, happens. In papers published by Transparency International, a global coalition against corruption, higher wages were part of the solution to address corruption in the public sector, combined with proper monitoring and accounting practices.

That is why I am proud to say that the Salary Standardization Law of 2019 or SSL 5 which we defended at the Senate plenary on behalf of Senator Bong Revilla, who is the main sponsor, was approved by both the Senate and House of Representatives.  We are confident that this measure will soon be enacted since President Rodrigo Duterte already gave his blessing, as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) gave its go signal.  It is a fitting season’s gift to all our civil servants, so that they can look forward to the coming years with more pride in their work, and resources for their families.

The increases in the salaries of civil servants will take effect on January 1 this coming year. The salary increases will be done gradually, from 2020 until 2023. To give one an idea of the scope of the salary increases, the 2020 tranche for the law will need P33.16 billion, and this is already provided for in the national budget.

Under the SSL-5, civil servants who are at the lowest salary grade (Grade 1) will have their current P11,068 monthly salary increased in stages to P13,000 in 2023; in general, those in salary Grades 1 to 10 will have 17.5% to 20% increases. Civil servants such as teachers, who are in Grade 11, will have an increase from P20,754 to P27,000 by 2023 – a welcome development, particularly for our educators who are at the forefront of our efforts after the wake-up call that the results of the PISA 2018 gave our educational sector. Educators who are in the Teacher 1 to Teacher 3 positions will have salary increases that will range from 24% to 30%.

The ones who will benefit the most from SSL-5 will be those who are in the Grade 10 to 16 brackets, who comprise the majority of our staff and government administration. Middle managers, executives, and other top officials from salary Grades 25 to 33, in contrast, will have 8 percent increases, due to the fact that their salary increases have been addressed in part by the past standardization law, SSL-4. Under the Constitution, the President, vice president, and incumbent members of Congress will have their current salaries remain the same, with any increases to be applied after their terms.

Indeed, of all the gifts that we can give this season, one based on dignity, respect, and proper compensation is the best that we can offer to our fellow Filipinos in government. But this is only part of an ongoing process; I invite all stakeholders who believe in good governance to come to the table, so we can keep on improving government services by rewarding good work with the means to provide if not a wonderful life, then at least one with dignity and opportunity for the families and loved ones of civil servants.

E-mail: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara

Senator Sonny Angara has been in public service for 15 years—9 years as Representative of the Lone District of Aurora, and 6 as Senator. He has authored and sponsored more than 200 laws.  He recently won another term in the Senate.